Neck lumps can be dangerous if avoided: Doctors

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS): Ignoring neck lumps, which can be both of infectious and non-infectious origin, can prove to be dangerous, said experts on Sunday stressing the need for early diagnosis.

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes that helps fight infection and disease. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped lumps of tissue found throughout the body.

When the body is fighting an infection, like in the case of fever, lymph nodes can swell. However, if the lymph nodes are swollen and painless, it could also be a sign of cancer.

“If one is having a swollen lymph node which is gradually gettingbigger with or without pain, fever, itmandates immediatemedical attention and expert advice,” Neha Rastogi Panda, Senior Infectious Diseases Specialist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, told IANS.

Panda said that in Indian settings, one of most common causes of lymph node enlargement/ swelling is tuberculosis (TB). Other infections -- viral, fungal should also be sought on a case to case basis. Furthermore, nodes can also be a sign of an inflammatory process and also cancerous origin called lymphoma.

“There is overlap and always a dilemma owing to huge similarity between symptoms of lymphoma and infections particularly tuberculosis which leads to delay in appropriate treatment. We have seen one has been started on anti-tubercular therapy without diagnosis and it doesn't improve leading to further delay and complications,” the doctor said.

“Lymphoma can be misdiagnosed as TB, so it becomes important to diagnose it correctly, the only way these two can be separated is by biopsy and blood works,” Rahul Bhargava, a lymphoma expert and Principal director of haematology and bone marrow transplant, at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, told IANS.

Lymphoma is cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes.

Bhargava said, “for Lymphoma, with newer treatment methods, the cure rate has become higher but what is required is early diagnosis”.

“First thing when we see an enlarged lymph node or a prolonged fever or weight loss we should do lymph’s node biopsy to characterise and differentiate between Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for which we need a special test called immunhistochemistry”.

Bhargava said that bone marrow transplants have helped improve the clinical outcomes in a big way.

“Many patients recovered successfully after being declared terminal just because we considered innovative modules as an important and effective treatment option,” he told IANS.

Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy rays (or particles) to destroy cancer cells may also help.

“Radiation therapy is part of the treatment for most people with Hodgkin lymphoma. It is essential in patients with bulky disease and also in patients where chemotherapy does not achieve complete remission. It is also used to ease (palliate) symptoms caused by lymphoma that has spread to internal organs, such as the brain or spinal cord, or when a tumour is causing pain because it's pressing on nerves,” Vineet Nakra, Radiation Oncologist at Max Super Speciality.



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